UPDATE : 2019.3.22 FRI 17:52
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Ex-tax agency chief arrested over NIS funds

A former chief of the National Tax Service (NTS) was arrested early Tuesday for suspected involvement in the state spy agency's secret operation against late President Kim Dae-jung during the previous Lee Myung-bak government.

The Seoul Central District Court issued the warrant for Lee Hyun-dong, who served as the NTS commissioner from 2010-2013, on charges of bribery and loss of state funds. It said that his charges are acknowledged and that he presents a flight risk. Prosecutors filed for a writ on Friday, and an arraignment hearing was held on Monday.

Lee, 62, is accused of taking 6 million won (US$553,000) from the National Intelligence Service (NIS) in 2010 to carry out the operation aimed at uncovering a Kim slush fund rumored to be hidden overseas. Such a provision of NIS funds to the tax agency is illegal, as the money had been specifically allotted for North Korea-related intelligence operations.

Prosecutors believe that Lee used 5 million won of the NIS fund for the operation, while taking the rest as a reward for his service. He was a deputy commissioner at the tax agency when he allegedly received the NIS funds.

The covert NIS operation, apparently code-named "Davidson," centered on suspicions that the late president had stashed a slush fund offshore -- suspicions that later proved groundless after a two-year probe. Kim died in 2009.

Prosecutors are investigating to find out if Lee received any instructions from the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae regarding the operation before he took part in it.

He is considered one of many influential figures with close ties to former President Lee Myung-bak's government. He worked for the former president's transition team and was later dispatched to the presidential finance and economy office.(Yonhap)

This photo filed on Feb. 12, 2018, shows Lee Hyun-dong, former National Tax Service commissioner, arriving at the Seoul Central District Court to attend a hearing on his arrest warrant over suspected involvement in a covert NIS operation. (Yonhap)

Kim Jung-mi  edt@koeapost.com

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